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TOXIC FIRE: THE SITUATION SO FAR

Saturday

10:44 p.m. Fire reported in office of Larry Fricker Co. chemical storage warehouse at 1421 N. State College Blvd. in Anaheim.

11:30 p.m. After blaze is under control, firefighters determine that hazardous chemicals are inside and pull back to a safe distance, leaving smoldering debris inside.

Sunday

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Midnight-1:30 a.m. A motel, restaurant, apartment complex and trailer park--just blocks from the fire--are evacuated. Several residents spend night at nearby Sycamore Junior High School.

1 a.m. Riverside Freeway is closed adjacent to the fire site. Two CHP officers and three Caltrans workers were contaminated and treated and released at local hospitals. Freeway was reopened at 5 a.m., but off-ramps to affected area remained closed.

Morning. Foams are used to combat burning chemicals and fire is knocked down enough that some evacuated residents are told to go home at 7 a.m.

11 a.m. Nearby areas evacuated again as wider evacuation of the area is ordered after fumes proved fatal to cockateel perched in window of a nearby apartment complex. An additional 1,000 are told to leave their homes and new evacuation center is set up at Katella High School.

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1:30 p.m. Anaheim City Manager William Talley declares state of emergency to facilitate mandatory evacuation.

3:10 p.m. Hazardous chemicals team, wearing protective “moon suits,” enter the building to assess situation for the first time.

5:30 p.m. Teams remove potentially explosive containers of liquid propane gas and methyl bromide.

6 p.m. Minor flare-up of fire convinces officials that evacuated residents must remain out for the night.

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Monday

8 a.m. Orange County Transit District worker and Pacific Bell employee overcome by fumes.

10 a.m. Hazardous materials team uncover more dangerous chemicals inside warehouse.

Noon: Officials call in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Strike Team, a San Francisco-based team of Coast Guard personnel who are experts in dealing with hazardous materials.

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1:30 p.m. Barricades go up in Anaheim and Placentia neighborhoods north and east of the fire site as Placentia officials declare a state of emergency. Hundreds more residents are routed from their homes by police using bullhorns. Additional evacuation centers are established at South Junior High and Esperanza High School in Anaheim.

1:30 p.m. California Highway Patrol closes 57 Freeway from Chapman Avenue to the 91 Freeway.

8:30 p.m. Hazardous materials workers remove highly flammable ammonium nitrate from inside warehouse.

9 p.m. Special EPA strike team begins to inventory chemicals left inside.

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11 p.m. Officials reopen 57 Freeway, the closure of which had caused major traffic problems in north Orange County.

Tuesday

6 a.m. Working through the night, hazardous materials specialists complete the removal of four tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer stored inside.

8 a.m. Air samples sent to South Coast Air Quality Management District for complicated series of tests. Results will determine when residents can return home.

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3 p.m. Two of three small smoldering fires are extinguished.

8 p.m. The remaining fire is reported under control.

10 p.m. The evacuation order is lifted for all but the four-square-block area of businesses closest to the warehouse. All residential evacuees are allowed to return home.


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